Got a Desk Job? Don't Forget to Exercise!
Previously, work used to involve many physical activities, especially in factories where materials and finished goods had to be moved from one place to another. That is long gone, and we are in an era where most jobs involve sitting down for eight hours (or more!) a day. A large percentage of the workers, especially the younger generation is tasked with sitting with a laptop receiving and writing emails, controlling the system, or entering and sorting data.
You probably don’t even think about how your health is compromised sitting for 8 or more hours at your workstation for five days a week. And of course, when the weekend hits, you might just feel like lying on the couch binge-watching Netflix. Here are just some of the health issues from a sedentary lifestyle that could be killing you silently:
1. Loss of Brain Power
You probably don’t realize since you’re clearly engaging your mind through critical thinking and problem-solving, but your brain is getting a low supply of oxygen and fresh blood which can make it foggy. Moreover, your brain might not be getting mood- enhancing chemicals and hormones without meaningful external stimuli, which could cause added stress to your work day.
2. Weight Gain
This is obvious enough. Extended hours behind the is going to lead to more belly fat, a larger waistline and clinical obesity. Your body stores calories to burn for the energy you need to move and do things throughout the day. If you’re not moving much or doing much of anything, all that energy just stays stored in your body as fat. As the days and weeks go by, you might not even notice the weight gain until suddenly you can’t quite button those pants anymore.
3. Blood Flow
Extended periods of sitting can slow your blood flow, putting strain on your arteries. Ironically, the slow blood flow might make you feel tired, leading to more sitting! If you have a slower blood flow, your body won’t operate as efficiently when it comes to breaking down fat molecules and moving the “trash” out. Instead, you’ll get build-up in the arteries that can clog them and add stress to your heart as it works to overcompensate. This is a recipe for uncontrollable heart diseases that will quite literally kill you.
4. Waste Elimination
You know how you sweat when you exercise? Not exercising means you probably aren’t sweating much, and sweat is an important part of getting rid of excess minerals, such as salt, calcium and iodine, from your body. Accumulation of these minerals in your blood causes the heart to work harder leading to serious health complications which include kidney and heart disease, among others.
Fortunately, you can keep your desk job and still find ways to increase your physical activity. Try some of these tips in the office to reverse or prevent the health issues above.
Conduct Meetings on the Move
Try scheduling “walking meetings” and get your coworkers to join you on a trek through the office or a walk around the block. These can be great for brainstorming meetings in particular! If you work near a public park, hosting occasional meetings there will be a great excuse to get everyone outside, enjoying the fresh air, and it’ll keep you and your colleagues more active.
Treat the Elevator as the Enemy
Unless your office is located on the top floor of a 40-story building, avoid elevators and escalators like the plague. Taking the stairs will increase blood flow and burn excess calories. It might not seem like much, but regular trips up and down the stairs can have a huge impact on your activity level.
Forget Phone and Email
This isn’t always practical, especially when dealing with an urgent matter with someone on the other side of the country. However, you can consider walking to your colleagues and deliver the messages in person. Instead of sending out an IM, take a stroll to their office and see if they’re free for a quick chat. Aside from getting you up and moving, it’s a great way to get in more facetime with coworkers and build relationships.
Stretching at Your Desk
You can easily stretch your hands, feet and more while sitting behind a desk. Make it a habit of stretching every hour while still sitting. Don’t be afraid to stand up too and give yourself a few good stretches. You might get some odd looks, but it’ll be good for your overall health.
Use an Exercise Ball as a Chair
Try sitting on an exercise ball a few days a week rather than your typical office chair. It’s better for your posture and improves pelvic stability. You can also strengthen your core muscles all day long, and it’s just a simple furniture swap!
Get a Fitness Tracker
There are a ton of great fitness trackers on the market, and mobile apps too. Find one that works for you. Simply wearing one won’t do anything to improve your health, but it can motivate you to stay active and more importantly let you know just how active you are. Then you can set goals for yourself, so on days where you’re unable to be particularly active at the office, you know to make up for it when you get home with some light jogging or a trip to the gym.